2022 Presenters

Keynote Event: The Writer’s Voice: A Conversation with Angela Russo-Otstot

Angela Russo-Otstot

President of Creative, AGBO

As President of Creative of AGBO, Angela Russo-Otstot leads development on a wide variety of television, film, audio, and gaming media. She is the co-writer and executive producer of Cherry, directed by the Russo Brothers and starring Tom Holland. She also executive-produced The Gray Man, one of Netflix’s most-viewed films. Angela previously taught screenwriting at Case Western Reserve University and The Cleveland Institute of Art.

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Bill Garvey

President, Greater Cleveland Film Commission

Bill Garvey has spent the last 14 years attracting some of the biggest films to Northeast Ohio, from Captain America: The Winter Soldier to The Fate of the Furious. For 13 years Bill served as a location manager, building relationships with studios and professionals. Since becoming President of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission last year, Bill has continued his work with attracting the wider film industry to the local area.

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Tiffany Alexander

Visiting Assistant Professor, CSU School of Film & Media Arts

Tiffany Alexander, CSU School of Film & Media Arts, has a BA from Hampton University, and a recent MFA in Narrative Media Writing from the University of Georgia. She has worked as a Copy Editor at the Orlando Sentinel, Reporter and Assistant Metropolitan Editor for the Plain Dealer, Adjunct Professor at Metro State University in Denver, Assistant City Editor at the Denver Post, as an Editor at CNN Digital, and as an Adjunct Professor at Kent State. Outside of her journalistic past she has written children’s books and TV Pilots.

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Aqueelah Jordan

Chief Prosecutor, City of Cleveland

Aqueelah Jordan is Chief Assistant Prosecutor for the City of Cleveland. Jordan previously served as an Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor. In that position, Jordan worked in the Juvenile Division, General Felony Unit and was promoted to the Major Trial Unit in 2016. Prior to that position, she was a member of the City of Cleveland Prosecutor’s Office, and came into it after serving as the Cleveland Municipal Court Interim Mediation Coordinator.

During her time earning her Juris Doctorate at Cleveland Marshall College of Law, she served as a law clerk in the Cleveland Municipal Court. Jordan also received her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Cleveland State University, and her undergraduate degree from Case Western Reserve University.

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Robert Triozzi

Professor, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

Robert J. Triozzi is a Clinical Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Cleveland-Marshall Criminal Justice Center. Professor Triozzi has been actively engaged a wide range of experience in legal, civic and public policy matters at the highest levels throughout his career. He has served as an accomplished defense attorney and served as chief trial counsel in a wide variety of cases including death penalty litigation. Professor Triozzi formerly served as the Director of Law and Chief Prosecutor for the City of Cleveland and the Director of Law for Cuyahoga County where helped advance efforts toward human rights legislation, bail reform and jail diversion opportunities. Professor Triozzi served with distinction for ten years as a Judge of the Cleveland Municipal Court where he assisted his colleagues in the establishment of the Greater Cleveland Drug Court and was instrumental in establishing the Court’s Mentally Disordered Offenders Docket, one of the first mental health courts in the State of Ohio. He has served as a member of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Domestic Violence Advisory Committee and was a Faculty Member of the Ohio Judicial College. At C|M Law, Professor Triozzi serves as the Director of the Pretrial Justice Clinic and the Interim Director of the Pardon, Clemency and Expungement Clinic and has taught a variety of criminal justice related experiential courses.

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Justice Michael P. Donnelly

Supreme Court of Ohio

Justice Michael P. Donnelly is the 160th justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio. He took office in January 2019, following his statewide election in November 2018 to a full term on the Court.

Prior to joining the state Court, Justice Donnelly served as a judge on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, General Division for 14 years. He was elected to the seat in November 2004 and re-elected in 2010 and 2016. In addition, from 2010 to 2017, he was one of five judges on Cuyahoga County’s Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Court, which oversees criminal cases involving defendants who suffer from severe mental illness or developmental disabilities.

Before serving as a member of the local judiciary, Justice Donnelly was an assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor from 1992 until 1997. He then went on to practice civil litigation for seven years, first practicing at an insurance-defense firm, and later joining a firm where he represented injured workers and other plaintiffs in asbestos litigation, personal injury lawsuits, and workers’ compensation claims.

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Matt Rager


Matt Rager is a screenwriter whose films have premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, and Toronto International Film Festival. He is also a PhD candidate in English at Yale University.

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Carmen Mann

Lt in Air Force and ’22 CSU Law Grad

Carmen Mann is a Cleveland-Marshall College of Law graduate from 2022. During her time at CM Law, Ms. Mann was on the Executive Board for the Dean’s Leadership Fellows Program, President of the Hispanic Law Student Association (HLSA), and CSU Graduate & Professional Student Association College of Law Representative. During her time in law school, she worked in a number of different fields of law including family law, immigration law, and victims’ rights and advocacy in criminal law. Ms. Mann is currently a Lieutenant in the United States Air Force, and upon passing the bar will begin her career as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) for the Air Force.

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Pamela Daiker-Middaugh

Professor, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

Pamela Daiker-Middaugh, Clinical Professor, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Before joining the Clinical Faculty of the Law and Public Policy Program, Ms. Daiker-Middaugh served as the Associate Director of the Street Law Program from 1987-94. She has taught Juvenile Law and Special Education Law at Cleveland-Marshall and directs the law school’s Pro Bono Program. Ms. Daiker-Middaugh serves as a Guardian ad Litem in both the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court and the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court. Ms. Daiker-Middaugh is the Chair of the Cleveland Bar Association’s Young Lawyers’ Section and Vice-President of the Board of Trustees of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. She is also the Director of the school’s Pro-Bono Program and Solo Practice Incubator.

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Brandon Kramer

Director, The First Step

Brandon Kramer is a Washington, DC-based filmmaker and co-founder of Meridian Hill Pictures. Brandon directed City of Trees (Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, national broadcast on PBS’ America Reframed, Netflix); and the Webby Award-winning independent documentary series The Messy Truth. Brandon won Best Director at the 2016 Chesapeake Film Festival and Indie Capital Awards, received the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 American Conservation Film Festival and was a 2015 DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities Individual Arts Fellow. Brandon has directed over 30 short documentaries commissioned by public agencies and nonprofits including AARP and US Institute of Peace. Before starting MHP, Brandon served as a teaching artist for the John F. Kennedy Center’s national media education program. Brandon holds a bachelor’s degree in film and cultural anthropology from Boston University.

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Debra Winston

Director of Community Corrections Services, Salvation Army Harbor Light Complex

Debra Winston graduated from Cleveland State University with a B.A in Urban Studies and MBA from the University of Phoenix. She has worked in community corrections for over 30 years. Other trainings and certificates include but are not limited to Corrections Leadership by the Nation Institute of Corrections, Thinking For A Change, Reality Therapy, Substance Abuse , PREA and many others. She is currently the Director of Community Corrections Services for The Salvation Army Harbor Light Complex and worked there for over 25 years. Ms. Winston has been held several offices for the Ohio Community Corrections Association. She is also an auditor for the American Corrections Association. She is actively involved in several re-entry initiatives in the greater Cleveland area. She is a member of the International Community Corrections Associations, American Corrections Association, National Association of Professional Women, and Ohio Community Corrections Association. She has worked on committees for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to impact policy and procedure for offenders re-entering the community. Ms. Winston has received the highest award given to the members of the Ohio Community Corrections Associations for outstanding contributions and dedication to corrections. Ms. Winston is also the recipient of the National Award for Excellence in Corrections awarded by The Salvation Army. She continues to work tirelessly to move forward innovative programming to address the needs of clients and ensuring the corrections programs comply with evidence based practices for the Salvation Army Harbor Light in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Jonathan Witmer-Rich

Associate Dean & Professor, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

Jonathan Witmer-Rich is Associate Dean and the Joseph C. Hostetler — Baker Hostetler Professor of Law at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University. His teaching and scholarship focuses on criminal law and procedure, including police search and seizure. Professor Witmer-Rich is active in ongoing criminal justice reform efforts. He served as a member of the Cuyahoga County Bail Task Force, examining bail and pretrial release practices within the county, and was the principal drafter of the Task Force’s “Report and Recommendations” in March 2018. He served for a decade on the Criminal Rules Committee of the Ohio Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure, the body charged with drafting amendments to the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure. Professor Witmer-Rich appears regularly in local and national media, commenting on issues of criminal justice and counterterrorism. Before joining the faculty in 2009, Professor Witmer-Rich practiced at the Federal Public Defender’s Office, where he represented defendants charged with a wide range of federal crimes.

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Bill Guentzler

Senior Director of Acquisitions, Gravitas Ventures

Bill Guentzler joined Gravitas Ventures as Senior Director of Acquisitions in 2021. He began his career in film at the Landmark Centrum Theater. After spending a summer studying in Berlin in 1998, he joined the Cleveland International Film Festival as an intern and grew with the organization, ultimately being named Artistic Director in 2005, a position he held for 15 years. During his time at CIFF, he was part of the team making the festival one of the largest and most well respected film festivals in the US and one of the first in the world to transition to an online format in 2020. In his brief hiatus from the film industry, he worked for Medworks, a Cleveland-based nonprofit organization linking people who are uninsured and underinsured with vital healthcare services. He holds a BA in Communications from Cleveland State University, which named him one if its inaugural 50 Fascinating Alumni. He couldn’t be more grateful to continue his work in bringing filmmakers’ stories to the public while living in the city he loves.

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Brendan Gallagher

Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Gravitas Ventures

Following 5 years of practice as an attorney at Frantz Ward LLP in Cleveland, Ohio, where he predominantly focused on commercial litigation, insurance disputes, and labor and employment issues, Brendan Gallagher joined Gravitas Ventures as Vice President of Business Affairs and General Counsel. As part of his practice, Brendan also supervised the nationwide litigation efforts of a banking client’s automobile-financing division. Brendan holds a JD from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (summa cum laude) and a BA from Boston College. Prior to attending law school, Brendan worked for the business-consulting company Accenture, participating in client engagements at NASA, Dow Chemical, and Consol Energy among others.

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Maria Gigante

Assistant Professor of Practice, School of Film & Media Arts

Maria Gigante earned her Master of Fine Arts in Film from Columbia College Chicago. Her short films, including the award-winning Girls Room (2007), have screened at more than 60 festivals around the world, including Berlin International, Tribeca, Montreal World and Cannes. She was the runner up for the 2007 MTV Movie Award “Best Filmmaker on Campus” and was listed as one of the “Top 10 Emerging Talents in Chicago” by Boards Magazine in 2008. For more than a decade, Gigante has taught film courses at the college level while writing, directing and producing narrative film, documentaries, music videos and web content. She is the marketing and media hub manager for the Cleveland International Film Festival and joined the School of Film & Media Arts as an Assistant Professor of Practice in 2018.

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Robert Bilott

Partner, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP

Robert Bilott, Partner – Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, is a seasoned and internationally-recognized litigator, advocate, and author, Rob represents a diverse range of clients on a wide variety of matters involving federal, state, and local environmental laws. For more than 30 years, he has handled environmental issues of regulatory compliance, permitting, and corporate/real estate transactions, as well as all aspects of litigation arising from such issues, from administrative hearings to multi-party, complex multi-district litigation, mass torts, and class actions.

Rob has gained international prominence in connection with uncovering and disclosing the world-wide impact of environmental contamination by the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkylated substances), particularly PFOA and PFOS. To date Rob has secured benefits in excess of $1 billion for a wide array of firm clients adversely impacted by PFAS contamination, including through key leadership positions in the nation’s first class action, personal injury, medical monitoring, and multi-district litigations, and jury trials involving PFAS. Because of this experience and knowledge on PFAS issues, Rob is frequently invited to provide keynote lectures and talks at law schools, universities, colleges, communities, and other organizations all over the world, including testimony before federal and state Congressional subcommittees, parliaments of the European Union, individual member states, and the United Kingdom, and committees of the United Nations.

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Lee Fisher

Dean, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

Lee Fisher is the Dean and Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University.

Fisher’s diverse career has spanned the private, public, nonprofit, and academic sectors. In addition to serving as Dean, he is Senior Fellow, Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs, and Urban Scholar, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs and the Great Cities Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago. Fisher served as President/CEO of CEOs for Cities, nationwide innovation network for city success, for six years.

Fisher clerked for Judge Paul C. Weick of the U.S Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. He has decades of experience in legal practice, most extensively with Cleveland-based Hahn Loeser as Of Counsel from 1978-1990 and Partner from 1995-1999. He served as Ohio Attorney General and was the first Ohio Attorney General to personally argue cases before the Ohio Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

In addition to serving as Attorney General, Fisher has served as Ohio Lt. Governor; Director, Ohio Department of Development; Chair, Ohio Third Frontier Commission; State Senator; and State Representative. He also served as President and CEO of the Centers for Families and Children. Fisher is a graduate of Oberlin College and served on the Oberlin College Board of Trustees for 12 years. He earned his law degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Law; he was the first recipient of the School of Law’s Distinguished Recent Graduate Award and was inducted in the School of Law’s Society of Benchers. He also earned his Master of Nonprofit Organization from the CWRU Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations.

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